STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- In 1993, Patricia Smith's life changed forever.
At the time, she didn't even know what a pug was. A single mother living in Brooklyn, Smith was working a 9-to-5 job at the Jewish National Fund and living what she called a "normal life."
Her best friend, Kim Turchiano, wanted a pug and for her birthday and Smith helped her buy one. When Turchiano brought it home, Smith was stunned.
"That's what you wanted? It's ugly!" she recalled telling her friend.
But Turchiano showed Smith that the pugs come in black and from then on, she was hooked. Smith bought her first black pug named Ebony in 1994.
By the time Smith moved to Staten Island in August of 1995, she already had three black pugs and started breeding dogs in October of that same year.
She now breeds pug puppies full-time in her home in Tottenville.
PATTI PUGLADY PUGZ
Over the years, Smith accumulated pug collectable items including plates, magnets, calendars, stuffed animals, mugs, teapots, and much more. She even has a pug coo-coo clock, wine bottles with pug faces on them and a pug comforter on her bed.
All of her cherished items are neatly displayed throughout her home. "Even though I have a lot of stuff, it doesn't look like I'm a hoarder," she said. "Everything has a spot."
People started calling her "Patti the Puglady" and "Patti Pugs." So in 2013, she decided to make it official and legally changed her name.
Patricia Smith no more. Say hello to Patti Puglady Pugz.
"I was reborn," she joked.
Pugz takes care of the newborn puppies for eight weeks, making sure they are well-fed, clean, and happy, until they are ready for new homes.
Her 2-year-old pug named Annabella just had 8 puppies on Tuesday, June 26. Pugz will be busy for the next eight weeks. "When I have puppies here my job is 24/7," she said.
Many times the puppies mate naturally, but sometimes, she will artificially inseminate the females.
"One of my friends made a joke one time: you could put that on your resume," Pugz recalled and laughed. "I don't think the vets like me because I do it myself, but it's not rocket science."
Breeding can be heart-breaking at times as well. Pugz said she lost one of her dogs in childbirth.
She remembered one puppy a few years ago who wasn't doing well and she was trying to revive him. "All I did was look at this puppy and it's like -- you have to live because you're going to make somebody happy."
Thankfully, the puppy lived and "made someone very happy."
A LIFE OF PUGS
Pugz said she remains friends with 99 percent of those who have bought pugs from her. She even attended a first birthday party for one of the puppies.
She is also the Vice President of the Pug Dog Club of Greater New York and the Alice Austen House Pug Day chair and costume judge.
"It all just keeps me occupied and out of trouble I guess," she said. "No drugs, no alcohol, just pug puppies... and lots of people."
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